California law would give employees the 'right to disconnect' during nonworking hours

Anyone tired of answering emails and calls from their boss after work may soon be protected by law in California.

A bill has been introduced in California legislature that would give employees the “right to disconnect” from their jobs during nonworking hours.

Assemblymember Matt Haney of San Francisco first introduced the bill, Assembly Bill 2751 in February, which would allow employees to disconnect from communications from their employer during nonworking hours.

If passed, California would be the first state to create a “right to disconnect” for employees. Similar laws have already been enacted in 13 countries, including Australia, Argentina, Belgium, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal and Spain.


More than once over the years I’ve told admin, “not interested”, when they asked me about taking a Supervisor position.

Nope, I punch out and clear my mind about work. I guarantee that wouldn’t be possible at the Supervisor level. I won’t even work as a Field Training Officer. The little bump per hour isn’t worth the hassle of doing evals and discussing each newbie with management.

Fredselfish, avatar

Even if this law were to pass. California governor bet you will veto it. He got to cater to the 1% if he plans run for president.


None of these laws would be necessary (I would hope) with a proper safety net (universal healthcare, UBI, etc). A job does something shitty, you can afford to leave! When we support people we empower them to stand up for themselves.

At least, these are the things I think about as my “no one wants to work anymore” boss rants at me about how everything would be better if the government wasn’t involved in capitalism.


I’m pretty sure that’s the exact reason why we don’t have those things. Harder to exploit people when they’re not scared and desperate.


I’d answer if my boss called outside of working hours. But only because I know he’d never ever do that if it wasn’t really urgent. But I’m under absolutely no obligation to do any work related stuff when I’m not clocked in.


I’m working in a European branch of an American business with headquarters in SF. We have to provide on-call support for software services that we create. Engineers from the European office are paid for on-call duty shifts, however American engineers are not paid for the same job. I wonder whether this law will change things.


I thought they already had that during working hours. I swear sometimes while I’m working on the east coast hours, my west coast colleagues signs on at 12PM EST and signs off of 530EST and aren’t around to answer my 6:30 EST pings. Meanwhile I’m waking early for EU client calls, and handling 9PM meetings with Asia offices. So it goes. I don’t think we can have it both ways where you can be remote working from anywhere yet not be on the hook to work hours during the defined operational times. I’m not working 9 to 9EST, and take long breaks mid day if I have evening meetings, but there are operational realities of needing to talk to people to get work done and those times need to be defined.


This isn’t already a right?


In my state being called into work requires a 3 hour minimum payment.

So a manager texting me to go respond to an email would be a 3 hour charge.

Our work culture was set to leave people alone off the clock due to this.

Now that I’m a salary employee I can see this being an issue. When I login in the morning I can see chatter at 11pm on work stuff.

Thankfully I’m not expected to answer to anything until my normal hours.


There needs to be legislation to reign in salary type work as well.

It still needs to be based on hours, like an average of 40 hours per week sort of thing.

Yes your pay cheque will be the same every week for simplicity, but you shouldn’t be expected to work 60 hours just because you’re salary. If you work one week 50 hours, you should be able to tell your boss you are only working 30 hours the next week.


Yeah “evening out hours” is usually referred to flex.

I had a job I literally did 90 hrs then 100 hours and the company gave me ONE day off the week after.

I was drowning and we succeeded. I got minimal recognition, a minor bonus (no where near enough to cover my OT) and only a day off. Spoke with the CEO as part of my kudos and he said we would get me my hours back.

My boss had other plans. Needed the coverage.

I started applying around after that.


I clarify with every job how many hours per week they’re paying me to do. I’ve never worked a minute past my agreed time without a contract stating how many extra hours were required, how much extra wages that would require, and under what circumstances such a clause can be triggered.

I didn’t realize others had so little control. It’s really heartbreaking.


Super toxic workplaces…

Last job I had was salary and it was 40 hrs a week minimum with “additional hours as needed by business needs”

This usually meant after hours server administration but if there was an outage then it was all you can eat unpaid overtime.

The worst part is mandatory 9am to 5pm coverage so no “evening out hours”


I have worked extra hours on salary, because on salary I’m being paid for the work, not the time. If I didn’t complete the work, I need to keep working. But that’s the fault of my own time management or inability to foresee the complexity of the task or estimate it’s workload properly.

Hourly gigs for me are always time constrained. You tell me my weekly shift before I sign and I tell you under what circumstances I’ll work OT (including rate, advanced notice, etc.) otherwise we have no deal.

I understand that not everyone is presented with the same choice or available opportunities, and my heart goes out to them.


The flaw with salary is that there is no defined amount of “work”.

It wont always be because you underestimated the complexity and mismanaged your time. If they asked you to complete a task and the only way to do it was to work 80 hours a week, sure that’s sometimes necessary. But what if they do that every week? Unless you were aware of those requirements during the hiring process and salary negotiation there’s nothing you can do. What if they pile on even more to your 80 hour week and you need to work the occasional 100 hour week?

There’s no way to regulate salary abuse, that’s why the system needs to be based on an average of hours.


Pfft, I’ve had friends who worked fast food jobs where they regularly got called in during their off hours/days. From what they told me, they had to commit to not just answering the phone, but showing up anytime their employer asked them to, no scheduling or prior notice required. This was apparently something they could get fired over refusing. It’s bonkers.

This is in the US, but not California.


Yup, my old grocery store required this as a part of being full-time. You couldn’t refuse a shift, couldn’t swap hours, and had to be able to come in when asked unless the absence was preplanned or a medical emergency.

Needless to say, almost all of the full-time people had no lives outside work, at all.

njm1314, (edited )

This is one of those things that you shouldn’t have to have a law to protect, that right seems inherent and inalienable. Yet we do we so do.


Laws don’t protect all rights. It’s only until the rights are taken away or eroded that people try to protect them. It seems terrible to me that we need a villain before protecting ourselves.


California trying to make life better for workers. I’m here for it.


Holy shit i really need this. Ever since my manager quit, my supervisor has basically decided to go total anarchy and do whatever she wants. Including adding us to the schedule without saying anything then deducting points for no-show, or blowing up our phones about said situation.

Semi-Hemi-Demigod avatar

Including adding us to the schedule without saying anything then deducting points for no-show

IANAL but that sounds like a labor law violation


Well, I did get mad and read the california labour laws one night in their entirety and sadly it was within legal grounds SOMEHOW. But doesn’t surprise me either considering this new law seems to allow calls about that still, too. Which i would imagine is the main gripe people would have with out of hours contact. Fucking bullshit, man.


IMO you should report the things to the labor board and let them decide. You never know what you might be missing with your own read through of the rules.


In this case I will take your advice and see what they say for sure. It’s been getting annoying but I can’t find a job in the area with comparable pay for my position so it’s worth a try if it means not quitting.

antlion, avatar

The law as proposed allows them to contact employees for emergencies or for scheduling. So as long as it’s about scheduling employees can’t safely ignore it.


Yeah, I sadly realised this and mentioned it in my other comment. It’s really unfortunate.


deducting points

My friend, everything’s made up and the points don’t matter. Just need to look for a similar job. Ask your friends and former coworkers.


Man, if only similar jobs even existed in some fields. Friend of a friend wrote a script to apply to around 1000 jobs per day last year (comp sci roles) and still took around 6 weeks to get their first interview. Other friends in the field have been searching with no luck for months now.


What is going on that this is necessary? I’ve never been expected to be reachable outside my working hours.

I’ve been on call, but those are scheduled, and I got paid if anything happened. I can only think of a very few unscheduled calls, including one where I had to call in and didn’t even have to unmute, but you bet your ass I still counted that time on my timecard and got paid for it.


From previous experiences, it is the shittiest jobs that have the highest expectations. Regardless of what anyone might see on this change, at least this puts it on paper.

BaldProphet avatar

Salaried workers have no specific hours. Their employers own them.

EDIT: Meaning to say that they aren't paid for hours worked, so there is nothing to lose and everything to gain from a money perspective for employers to get them to work long hours and call whenever.

viking, avatar

Wait a second, you don’t have working hours in the US just because you’re receiving a salary? My contract states that I have 8h of work per day, 5 days a week, and that office hours are understood as 9 AM to 6 PM with 1h for lunch, and that’s that.

BaldProphet avatar

It depends on your agreement with your employer. Unless your employment contract specifically states hours for you to work during, there is no limit on when your boss can expect you to reply to your emails.

Of course, hourly non-salaried workers get paid by the hour, even though some hourly workers can still be expected to work ridiculous hours by their employers.


Can you imagine being on a global operations team in California? Looks like a bunch of job openings


It just means that employers will have to pay employees for the work they perform. I dont think there will be major changes. It will just require companies to better define the hours their employees are expected to be working.


Again, ops teams usually work way overtime. California is special because we don’t really have an overlapping working time with Asia or EU. This means we either have to not work a regular 9-5 time zone or the company is going to have to open a bunch of positions to make up for the difference.


ops teams usually work way overtime

Then those workers are entitled to overtime pay and for those overtime hours to be clearly defined and adhered by. That really shouldn’t be so hard to grasp.


Salary workers


Then no. If it’s not in your contract and you’re not being paid extra for it, they have no right to take your free time.


Care to describe what you’re calling “ops” or do you think your company’s technobabble means something?


Are you asking me what is operations?

BaldProphet avatar

"Ops" means "Operations" and is far from technobabble. Ops could be everything from maintenance and security personnel to IT workers who keep business-critical systems running.


So technobabble. No real making. It’s just a word to slap on whatever you decide is important.

g0d0fm15ch13f, avatar

Imagine what hellscape would need this to be a law


Welcome to the “land of the free”.

Ultragigagigantic, avatar

Ultimately, it should be a law. Companies will always want to exploit their workers whenever possible, and the entire point of a government is to enforce the will of the people against things like corporations that are too big for any single person to fight. It’s basically the concept of “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to fear,” but applying it to companies instead of people, because the people should be free, not the corporations.


Middle Managers in shambles over this

“But how will I get my rocks off to knowing I can strangle my underlings with infinite meaningless metrics‽”




Is it really a widespread thing for people to get in trouble for not doing this? I’ve never answered an email or phone call while off work or on vacation and not once has anyone brought it up. The only people I see doing this are the people that do it of their own free will.


I used to get in trouble for missing calls and texts out of hours because they expected it. They expected it because I usually answered. I stopped and got in trouble a few times. Then they started calling someone else.


Likely you’ve suffered in less noticeable ways, like delays in promotion or pay increases

Viking_Hippie, (edited )

Is it really a widespread thing for people to get in trouble for not doing this

Yeah it is. Remember the whole “quiet quitting” bullshit panic? That was about people doing this and bosses (plus the pro-corporate billionaire-owned mainstream media) pretending that it was the death knell of businesses.

I’ve never answered an email or phone call while off work or on vacation and not once has anyone brought it up

Good. That’s exactly how it should be. If they’re not paying you for it, you’re not on call. That should be a given.

The only people I see doing this are the people that do it of their own free will

Unfortunately, that’s far from true. Lack of regulations. An obscene power imbalance stemming mainly from lack of unionization. A business culture that heavily encourages ruthless exploitation.

These conditions combine to make many if not most bosses abuse their workers in any and every way not specifically illegal and oftentimes even THAT doesn’t stop them.

This law and effective enforcement of it is VITAL for labor rights and the mental health of workers


I never give my personal phone number to coworkers, and my work laptop is shut down for the night

Sanctus, avatar

Me getting called four times a night by random coworkers asking for random shit:

Worker protections are necessary. Without them our employers would all treat us like Frieza did Krillin


Frieza did Krillin

Too soon.


it’ll never not be too soon


What in the hell am I looking at here? My brain is not processing this.


Took my eyes a long time too. He’s being sliced in half

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